ALL SAINTS SUNDAY + NOVEMBER 7, 2021

PRAYER OF THE DAY

O God, You bless us with remembering those Holy Folk who lived and loved and became for us shining beacons of your Light. Today we rejoice in this Great Cloud of Witnesses, who share your love and unite with us in worship and praise through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

A READING FROM THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH 25:6-9

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

WE WILL PRAY PSALM 24 RESPONSIVELY

The earth is the LORD‘s and all that is in it, the world and those who dwell therein. For the LORD has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD, and who may stand in God’s holy place? Those of innocent hands and purity of heart, who do not swear on God’s being, nor do they pledge by what is false. They shall receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of their salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek you, O LORD, of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in. 0Who is this King of glory? Truly, the LORD of hosts is the King of glory.

A READING FROM THE REVELATION OF JOHN 21:1-6A

I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”

THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN 11:32-44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

SERMON

“Unbind him, and let him go!” What an extraordinary and totally unexpected thing to say! First of all, Jesus has encountered his grieving friend who, it seems, has laid her brother’s untimely death at Jesus feet. Second, he is grieving publicly; something heretofore unwitnessed; and then, the completely unlawful risk of uncleanness for himself and all who came in contact with the tomb, for they were forbidden to touch anything associated with death. And now, even more improbably, he commands the crowd: “unbind him and set him free”! Why? Couldn’t this Jesus who literally raised the dead, have had him come forth clean, healthy, clothed, and, well, normal? Why present the crowd with this mummy, the incontrovertible image of death?

Therein lies the sacred interaction between the Divine and the human: In Jesus, the two are inextricable, and reach out to us, to elicit our truest identity and destiny from our humanness, which is every moment in process of becoming the Divine Image of God. In this intricate interaction, with the One who is both human and Divine, we are called to take another step out of the narrow confines of our minds and hearts and spirits, entombed, as it were, in “the way it used to be” or “the way we always did it” or even, “that’s not the way I thought it should be,” into a new, and unforeseen life, in which we are empowered to acknowledge, appreciate, and actually incorporate, the way to become the Kingdom that Jesus proclaims.

In that exchange, in which Jesus calls new life out of the stench of death, we are given the grace to cooperate with the miracle, to become a part of the miracle, to understand that God desires to share the miraculous with us, and in so doing, continue our journey of many steps, toward the fullness of being that Jesus embraces, and offers, at the cost of his own life, to us.

Each time we unbind another, from whatever oppresses them, or allow others to unbind us, we participate in what the scriptures call “Sainthood” and what the Scriptures call us: “Saints”! Amen

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